University Press Roundup

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best articles from the blogs of academic publishers! As always, if you particularly enjoy something or think that we missed an important post, please let us know in the comments. (And look back at our University Press Roundup Manifesto to see why we do this post every Friday.)

Recent events have proven inspiring for a host of university press blogs around the country and abroad. The Cambridge University Press blog kicks us off with a post by John Suler, author of Psychology of the Digital Age (2015), on the psychology of Twitter. Suler points out how the static textuality of Twitter as a medium can lead to misunderstandings in the absence of a voice or image to help interpret one’s words. It can also foster communications that consist of what one of Suler’s colleagues calls “an emotional hit and run.” Elsewhere, the University of North Carolina Press features a guest post by Gregg A. Brazinsky, author of the forthcoming Winning the Third World: Sino-American Rivalry During the Cold War. He describes the recent history of Chinese-American economic competition in the second half of the twentieth century, and looks ahead to some possible developments in the already-fractured relationship between President D. Trump’s administration and Beijing.

Women’s history is always relevant, and two recent posts are timely support for the global Women’s March this month and the early January release of the film Hidden Figures. First, the Harvard University Press Blog features a post about Red Ellen: The Life of Ellen Wilkinson, Socialist, Feminist, Internationalist (2016) by Laura Beers. Wilkinson was a British MP in the 1930s who was one of the first female delegates to the United Nations, and became famous for making a march of her own with two hundred unemployed shipwrights in 1936. “Beers’s portrait of Wilkinson,” the editor writes, “should reframe our understanding of the British left between the wars and bolster our sense of the possibilities for international social justice coalitions.”

Second, the Princeton University Press features a guest post by David Alan Grier, author of When Computers Were Human (2007). Taking Katherine Goble Johnson and the women of Hidden Figures as his starting point, he runs down other examples of moments when the mathematical skills of “Blacks, women, Irish, Jews and the merely poor” became essential to the everyday discoveries of scientists who later gave them scant credit for their work. The film is welcome and important, Grier writes, “because it reminds us that science is a community endeavor.”

The MIT Press, on the other hand, has looked back this month to celebrate an interesting anniversary. The 12th of January was the ‘birthday’ of the fictional supercomputer and AI presence Hal in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. David G. Stork, editor of the collected volume Hal’s Legacy: 2001’s Computer as Dream and Reality (1996), writes a fascinating post about how Hal “remains the most compelling portrayal of machine intelligence in cinema.” He also provides an overview of newer developments in AI, including a recent move towards provoking ‘deep learning’ by machines rather than relying solely on computation and mathematical reasoning.

And finally, an item of note to those interested in publishing as a profession: the Johns Hopkins University Press has begun a new monthly series of posts on their blog about the technicalities of book distribution! Davida G. Breier, the author of the series, is Manager at Hopkins Fulfillment Services, which distributes books from JHU and many other academic press clients.

Thanks for reading! As always, we hope that you enjoyed the links. Please let us know what you think in the comments!

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